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Northern Ballet on Beeb 2


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Thanks for mentioning this programme on here. I will be recording it as we'll be watching dd dance her first big solo tonight!

Damn and double damn, forget to set sky box, went out in glorious sunshine and missed half of it!! Had hoped to catch a glimpse of old class mate Daniel!!

 

Very interesting programme. Loved how glamorous the dancers looked at the launch event- reminded me of how glamorous danccers always looked when you look see old photographs of the Royal Ballet before it even became Royal!

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Yes, the dancers were very glamorous and it was a lovely evening! My niece was roaring with laughter when she noticed me as one of the audience watching the "performance". I will be happy to sign autographs!

 

I thought the documentary gave a very positive view of the company. It concentrated on the British members of the company but there were some really nice glimpses of the whole company in class and performance. Very thought provoking.

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This was very interesting - thanks for mentioning it, Janet, because I probably would have missed it otherwise. I think Northern Ballet came out of it very well and it must have helped their campaign.

 

I would have liked to have heard more from NB's own marketing team about their other ideas; it seemed obvious to me that "Sponsor a Dancer" would have much more appeal than "Buy Back a Dancer" because one is so much more positive than the other. I also felt somewhat taken aback at the mention of £50 being the amount they'd like individuals to give because that seemed a lot to me; the folk who'd given £30 along with a "sweet letter" might be a little put out to learn that their offering would be considered paltry - which I know it is in the great scheme of things, but surely every little helps. I felt a little sorry for the dancers at the first event, where they stood around in costume looking a bit awkward and, as was said, "decorative". The second event where they were all intermingled at the meal was clearly a better idea; I would assume that most people interested in ballet are actually interested in talking to ballet dancers too, The dancers interviewed (all British) came over very well indeed.

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Did anyone see Arts Troubleshooter on BBC 2 on sat evening 8.15 ? Definitey worth watching on IPlayer. It follows a year in the life of Northern Ballet as it struggles to cope with 15 per cent funding cuts.

Its a wonderful advert for Northern Ballet and their very engaging dancers but it paints a pretty dismal picture of their previous efforts at fund raising. The Australian guru who's brought in to do a sort of Mary Portas on their funding efforts frankly just states the bleeding obvious. Namely use the dancers. I would have thought that must be the ABC of any funding effort for a ballet company. The talent is what sells the company.

It seems pretty obvious people are more likely to give money to a ballet company if they feel a sense of connection and involvement. How do you do that ? You make it personal. ie about the dancers.

Fortuntely Northern B appear to have taken that on board....but really do you need a consultant to tell you that,

n

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I've added my thoughts on this on the other thread: "Press Release: Northern Ballet Documentary in May" in the Ballet/Dance News & Information section. But, yes, I agree with you, Norman S!

 

 

Edited by Janet McNulty to say that I have moved Rowan's comments into this thread. Thanks

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I would normally agree with Norman's comments about consultants but I did think that his comments about how you say something were pertinent. Sometimes you are just too close to your own words to realise how they can come across to others. I worked quite a lot with contractors and soon realised that you should always try and put a positive slant on everything because people want to feel they are backing a winner.

 

It wasn't obvious from the programme but the entry level for the sponsorship is £30 and not £50. Every little helps! I think the other thing is that a low entry level means that everyone, and not just wealthy people, trusts and corporations feel they can help.

 

I must say that I have always found the dancers at NB really appreciate the support of their audience and hopefully the administrators have realised just how wonderful the dancers are as ambassadors for the company. As, indeed, is David Nixon. I remember years ago sitting with a friend in the cafe at Sadler's Wells. We were thrilled when David waved over to us from the doorway and totally gobsmacked when he came over and thanked us for all our support because he had noticed us in the audience at various venues. I wanted to hand over the keys to my bank on the spot!!

 

I was pleasantly surprised after another recent documentary series at how supportive of NB this programme was. Well done to all the dancers interviewed for being so articulate and passionate about the company.

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Daniel de Andrade's blog (above) was very interesting. This TV programme is called Arts Troubleshooter and of course it has to focus on the man who is parachuted in for that role and make it appear that it is he alone who spots the faults, has the ideas and effects the transformation.

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Anna Izza, who worked for NB some years ago, has added some thought provoking comments onto Daniel's blog. After a documentary series about another company last year, this could cause an interesting discussion on the value of publicity at any cost.

 

Please give it a look and add your thoughts.

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I'd love to: I just wish Wordpress would get themselves sorted out so that I could - this inaccessibility problem has been going on for months, and affecting at least two major browsers. It's just not good enough.

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I found the programme really interesting and thought-provoking.

 

There is just one thing, though.

 

Whenever charities and other fundraisers ask for donations, I find it really off-putting when there is a minimum amount asked for. There must be many people out there (including ourselves) who have to watch every penny, but would like to help if we can. It makes me feel that they're just not interested in having you as a supporter unless you are well-off.

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Whenever charities and other fundraisers ask for donations, I find it really off-putting when there is a minimum amount asked for. There must be many people out there (including ourselves) who have to watch every penny, but would like to help if we can. It makes me feel that they're just not interested in having you as a supporter unless you are well-off.

I agree. The way the page is laid out makes it seem as if they're not interested in my fiver, as it were. A suggested minimum is ok but at least it should also say something like "any amount, however small, is of great help". And what if I want to send cash or a cheque?

 

As Norman S points out Michael Lynch "just states the bleeding obvious" but the bleeding obvious is often lost sight of and needs to be reiterated, and often. I was horrified, but in retrospect not surprised, at the gulf that seemed to exist between management and the dancers. (I suppose this exists in almost all bureaucracies.) The scene at the Sadler's Wells post-show reception where the discomforted dancers were treated like wallflowers and made to eat by themselves was demeaning and terrible.

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It does, as most do, offer you the chance to select your own amount, though, so there is no actual minimum. I have heard it said by various charities over the years that people actually appreciate having some idea of what to donate, and how much their donation is worth in practical terms.

 

I have also (and this is no reflection on NB) heard that certain charities put these various options, say £25, £50, £75, £100, on the form. Say you donate £25. The next time you may get a personalised form starting at perhaps £30 rather than £25. Sneaky.

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As Norman S points out Michael Lynch "just states the bleeding obvious" but the bleeding obvious is often lost sight of and needs to be reiterated, and often. I was horrified, but in retrospect not surprised, at the gulf that seemed to exist between management and the dancers. (I suppose this exists in almost all bureaucracies.) The scene at the Sadler's Wells post-show reception where the discomforted dancers were treated like wallflowers and made to eat by themselves was demeaning and terrible.

 

Nicely said John. It was a "bleeding obvious" the company didn't seem to get at first. All companies are having to deal with Arts Council cuts and all face challenges in doing it.

 

The most surprising thing I thought was that only 7% of their funding comes from their own fund-raising. That seems very small. Perhaps I misheard - apologies if I did and strike the rest of this para! Although people are getting vexed about how they ask the audience and fans for money, the money that makes a huge difference is corporate and that's where they would seem to lack punch. I can't recall a big sponsor since Halifax did so much for them - probably a decade ago now.

 

Northern are tenacious in doing things their way - a way like no other company in the UK. They do their stuff, the existing audience love them and so it goes on, almost in its own Northern/Nixon bubble set aside from wider artistic exchanges and endeavours around ballet and dance. Be interesting to see where their strategy takes them in the longer term.

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It should also be remembered that while, IMO, the programme showed NB in a positive light - at the end of the day, how many hours must have been filmed to produce one hour of television to show off how good a troubleshooter Mr Lynch is.

 

I don't think the concept of a major sponsor, in the way that Halifax was, has existed for any major company in the last 10 years or so.

 

NB are trying to move in new directions and in the last year their audience have been treated to a choreographic workshop and a mixed programme (including a work by Christopher Hampson) at the theatre in the company's HQ. Sadly, at the moment, it's a case of bums on seats and that could well mean that people who want to do more are constricted by only being able to do productions seen as winners. (A situation that ENB has also found itself in).

 

Edited to add a sentence.

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I don't think the concept of a major sponsor, in the way that Halifax was, has existed for any major company in the last 10 years or so.

 

Agreed. However I think my point was how low the 7% seemed (tending to assume its true, otherwise you would have mentioned!). I think the other companies achieve more by way of fund raising, be it from a number of corprorates or whatever. Be nice to settle down and try and compare the companies - hard numbers are always nicer.

 

 

NB are trying to move in new directions and in the last year their audience have been treated to a choreographic workshop and a mixed programme (including a work by Christopher Hampson) at the theatre in the company's HQ. Sadly, at the moment, it's a case of bums on seats and that could well mean that people who want to do more are constricted by only being able to do productions seen as winners. (A situation that ENB has also found itself in).

 

Ultimatly all companies need to get bums on seats.

 

I think this is is not a good or fair comparison with ENB or any other UK company. In Mark Skippers own words re David Nixon: "...he's been the choreographer of virtually every production we've done for the last 10 years". No other company is in this position by a long margin. And I don't see any significant moving forward really. You mention Christopher Hampson but he was one part of a quad bill put on in a 200 seat studio theatre over a few nights in one location. The other 3 pieces were all in house. You mention ENB, but they, having done much popular rep, treated themselves and their audience to 2 weeks in the Coliseum to celebrate Diaghilev with new works and old by a mix of choreographers including Balanchine, Petit and MacMillan. Their normal rep has work set by a variety of choreographers also. Birmingham is a little narrower on rep creation but has recently toured mixed rep in the regions. All these companies are facing the same proportional loss in Arts Council grant I believe. Not sure on Scottish Ballet, but I'd be surprised if it was business as usual on grants. But again there is wider rep from a range of choreographers and I don't see this narrowing at all.

 

I think its very true to talk of a "Northern/Nixon bubble set aside from wider artistic exchanges and endeavours around ballet and dance." Of course that is not to say its not enjoyed by many who follow the company.

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I think this is is not a good or fair comparison with ENB or any other UK company. In Mark Skippers own words re David Nixon: "...he's been the choreographer of virtually every production we've done for the last 10 years". No other company is in this position by a long margin. And I don't see any significant moving forward really. You mention Christopher Hampson but he was one part of a quad bill put on in a 200 seat studio theatre over a few nights in one location. The other 3 pieces were all in house. You mention ENB, but they, having done much popular rep, treated themselves and their audience to 2 weeks in the Coliseum to celebrate Diaghilev with new works and old by a mix of choreographers including Balanchine, Petit and MacMillan.

 

NB gave performances of their mixed programme in their home town. ENB also gave performances of their mixed programmes in their home town. ENB audiences outside their home town, ie outside London, have not enjoyed mixed programmes for some years. BRB audiences in the North have not enjoyed mixed programmes on the main tours for some years and there is only one mixed programme in the 2012/13 season for Birmingham and Plymouth audiences. OK - SW are getting two mixed programmes but one of those will have been seen in their home city in June.

 

NB's mixed programme may have been shown in a theatre that only holds 200 people but it did have choreography by 4 different choreographers even if 3 of them were "in house". Great oaks from little acorns grow and at least the company have tried to put on something different from their norm.

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My main point was that other companies generally present diversity of choreographic/production vision in what they put before audiences - be it full evening or mixed bills.

 

Ultimately I don't believe David Nixon is the only choreographer capable of producing pleasing works that sell in the theatres Northern Ballet visit. And I believe that diversity is good and other directors are wise to go that time-honoured way. BUT we will never agree and I know you value his work very much. I'm not against popularist work, or an all dramatic repertoire, but one man doing "virtually every production" seems too narrow. Finally I should say I liked Nixon's Midsummer Night's Dream and who can say I may like his new Ondine and Great Gatsby when they emerge in September and March next year. He certainly seems to knock 'em out that's for sure.

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